Packaging and Recycling

Because a throwaway culture is rubbish

Packaging has a place. It protects our food and keeps it fresher and safe for longer. But, we want to keep plastics in the economy and out of the oceans by using less and making it even easier to recycle.

We also know it can be hard to recycle certain products so we listen to your frustrations about recyclability at home and use them to make our packaging smarter.

While we don't have the solutions yet, we are rightly setting the bar high and are committed to working together to make a difference. Our commitments on plastic are:

  • All our own-brand packaging will be easy to recycle by 2023 (80% by 2020).
  • We will use a minimum of 50% recycled plastic in PET plastic, pots, trays and punnets and HDPE bottles by 2021.
  • We will eliminate own-brand CPET, black and dark plastic packaging by 2020.
  • We are reducing our use of plastic, and where we do use it, we are making it easily recyclable or reusable by 2023.
  • We will work with partners to improve recycling rates and help customers reuse and recycle easily.
  • Our meat product packaging is now made with a single material so it can be recycled easily.
  • Our milk bottle top colours are a lighter shade, this makes them easier to recycle.
  • Our pizza bases are all cardboard, not polystyrene.
  • Our own-brand straws are paper not plastic.
  • Our irresistible tomato packaging is cardboard not plastic.
  • Our mushroom pots are blue, not black, so they can be recycled easily too.
  • We also stock compostable carrier bags in selected stores in England and Scotland. They can be used to carry shopping home and then within food waste caddies and bins.

Less plastic bag waste

We've replaced single-use carrier bags in almost 1,400 Co-ops with the UK's first compostable carrier bag. If your local authority collects food waste scraps, then Co-op bags will be the new, fully compostable version and can be used as kitchen food waste caddy liners.

Single-use plastics are a critical threat to our environment and we're taking a stand. Back in 2017 we stated that we want to make all our packaging easy to recycle. Since then we've moved from 46% to 71% recyclable. That's real progress, but we know that we can do more despite the challenges involved. Find out how and why we're removing single-use plastics from our products altogether.

We're busy brewing up a fully biodegradable paper tea bag, and we're the first retailer to find a solution to the problem of plastic waste caused by our favourite beverage.

We've developed a version of our own brand 99 tea without polypropylene, which is an industry-wide method used to enable teabags to hold their shape. This move could save nine tonnes of plastic every year from being dumped into household rubbish and compost collections, as it is fully compostable and can be placed in food waste collections.

Biodegradable Tea

Co-op are the first supermarket to trial compostable tea bags.

The Tipping Point

Only half a million of the 1.5 million tonnes of recyclable plastic waste created every year is being used as intended. We first raised this issue in 2016 with our Tipping Point report.